jamie goode's wine blog: Brief Napa reports: Corison

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Brief Napa reports: Corison

Corison took me by surprise a bit: it's a smaller operation than I had been expecting, and the wines were made in a style I love: the antithesis of the big, in-yer-face, points chasing excess. Cathy Corison wasn't around (she was in a plane at the time), but I was ably hosted by Maurey Feaver. We tasted and lunched on the balcony of the top floor of the winery, warmed by the late autumn sun, and looking across to the Mayacamas Range and Spring Mountain.

Cathy chooses to make the wines in a more restrained, ageworthy style than many here. She picks a little earlier, and so doesn't have to add acid. As well as coming from the Kronos vineyard around the winery, grapes are sourced from other vineyards from this west side of the valley floor, plus some mountain fruit.

A vertical of Corison Cabernet Sauvignon from 1998-2002 showed how well these wines age. Indeed, they positively need age: the current release 2006 is tight, tannic and brooding, only hinting at what is to come. They are fantastic, pure, structured, ageworthy wines, and with the library releases the same price as the current release ($70), I'd suggest that the remaining bottles of 1998 are one of the Valley's great bargains.

The temptation for writers is sometime to praise certain wines for what they are not. In this case, I'd reassure you I'm not just plugging Corison because the wines are not made in the big point-chasing spoofulated style, but because they actually have complexity and character as well as restraint.

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At 11:55 PM, Blogger Dan McGrew said...


I was at Corison for the first time three weeks ago and was just as surprised and pleased as you with the wines. They were (and are) delicious. A few posts ago when I read the list of wineries you were visiting I was delighted to see Corison on the list and was very eager to read your opinion.

I wish more in Napa could show the same restraint as Cathy Corison.

At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Remy said...

I tasted Cathy Corison's Kronos cabernet twice over the last year and a half. Once in a horizontal tasting of all 1997 Napa cabernet sauvignons, where it showed a completely distinctive style from all the rest, and once at an Appellation St. Helena tasting where the 2003, I believe, stood head and shoulders above every other cabernet in the lot. In both cases, it was not by being bigger, just by being better, finer, with more depth and complexity.

Cathy Corison is herself a charming and remarkably forthcoming presence on Twitter (http://twitter.com/cathycorison), willing to discuss winegrowing and winemaking with great generosity. There aren't many like her around.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Bibendum said...

So glad you liked Cathy's wines. We feature them every year at our Californian tasting and they always stand out as the classiest of the Cabernets

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Tom said...


I was at Corison last November (2008) and though I loved the wines, I was struck by what looked for all the world like leaf roll virus throughout the vineyard surrounding the winery, which also seems obvious in the pictures you posted. I didn't see the red-tinged leaves anywhere else from Carneros to St. Helena. Am I missing something?

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

Corison sounds and looks like a beautiful winery. I'll have to visit sometime.


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